Shakespeare's Criminals: Criminology, Fiction, and Drama

Shakespeare's Criminals: Criminology, Fiction, and Drama

Shakespeare's Criminals: Criminology, Fiction, and Drama

Shakespeare's Criminals: Criminology, Fiction, and Drama

Synopsis

By exploring Shakespeare's use of law and justice themes in the context of historical and contemporary criminological thinking, this book challenges criminologists to expand their spheres of inquiry to avenues that have yet to be explored or integrated into the discipline. Crime writers, including William Shakespeare, were some of the earliest investigators of the criminal mind. However, since the formalization of criminology as a discipline, citations from literary works have often been omitted, despite their interdisciplinary nature. Taking various Shakespearean plays and characters as case studies, this book opens novel theoretical avenues for conceptualizing crime and justice issues.

Excerpt

This volume explores how William Shakespeare used the themes of law and justice in his plays and how his writing presents theatrical scenarios directly relevant to historical as well as contemporary criminological thinking.

Shakespeare lived over 400 years ago, before criminological theory was formalized and long before criminology emerged as an academic discipline. Yet, arguably, his works are timeless and of relevance across geographical boundaries.

Three categories of research questions form the basis of the book. First, from a purely descriptive perspective, in what ways does Shakespeare use dramatic characters in his plays to illustrate criminal or deviant behavior? Specifically, what crimes are depicted in selected plays and how are they defined and portrayed? Second, how do Shakespeare's characters or story lines illustrate motivations for criminal behavior? That is, how do Shakespeare's works explain the existence of crime and criminal careers in society? How does the playwright discuss or allude to biological or personality variables influencing criminal conduct? How does he develop the ideas of sociocultural and economic impact on crime? In these regards, do his theatrical scenarios concerning criminality and crime causation appear to anticipate or foreshadow the criminological theory that has appeared in the subsequent professional literature hundreds of years later? Third, how do Shakespearean plays offer explanation and analogies for various models of social control? For instance . . .

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